Wreck-it Ralph (2012)


Where the hell is my Super Nintendo?!?

Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) is a video game character who has been overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), the good-guy star of their game who always gets to save the day. Fed up of being the bad guy all the time, Ralph takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a journey across the arcade through multiple generations of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero.

It’s a known-commodity that today’s kids, are mainly dependent on video-games and use it more than anything else. Back in the 90’s, however, kids were more dependent on toys and playing with them, until technology began to take over and sooner or later, the toys were left to just sit there, by themselves, with no one to play with them. I’m basically talking about the same toys I have come to know and love from the Toy Story franchise, in case you couldn’t tell, and I think the comparison between that movie and those ones are pretty understood because in a way, it shows the world of inanimate objects, and what they do when no one else was looking.

However, it’s almost a crime to compare this one to those movies because this movie, is sure as hell nowhere near the same league as those classics, but still does great job with itself to make me forget about the comparisons. The obvious love and passion these film-makers have for video-games, show as there are tons and tons of cameos from little video-game characters that we all know and love, and it’s just really cool to see. If you never, ever thought that Bowser and M. Bison would ever be at two places at once, well, then think again because you’re going to see them next to each other, along with a slew of other famous characters that I caught-on to right away, and plenty others where I definitely missed-out on. Either way, if you love video-games, know all about them, and can tell when Q*Bert went out-of-order, then you’re going to have a freakin’ field-day with the first 45 minutes of this movie.

And hell, even if you can’t tell me or aren’t that much of a video-game lover, then you’re still going to have a great time because that’s what the story is all about and that’s exactly what they deliver on. The first 45 minutes is pretty cool because we get to see Ralph go and try to interact in these other worlds/games, because it feels as if we are on adventure with this guy that will never, ever seem to end and one that I didn’t mind riding with for 2 hours if I needed to. However, the film’s settings do come to a complete halt when the rest of the film ends up spending most of the majority at a girly car-racing game called “Sugar Rush”, a game that reminded me a lot of a mixture of Mario Kart, had it been jacked-up on sweets and all that is right with the world.

Even though this was a bit of a bummer, seeing as that Ralph would just be spending all of his time at this one, designated area, the film still does a great job with itself and offering us a great look at characters that didn’t seem like they stood a chance to be liked in the first-place. I laughed a good couple of times, and definitely felt myself as if I was playing a video-game the whole time, but there is an emotional-level to this film that does it’s job in the end and makes you feel more for these characters, rather than just looking at them as a bunch of video-game characters. Next time you’re playing “Zombies”, think about the things you’re killing in the first-place. Maybe they have souls as well. Oh, who am I kidding!?! They’re freaky, so kill them to get points!

However, the bummer of this film is that it sort of does follow the same, exact pattern we have come to know and associate with animated movies like these and even though it’s not as unbearable this time around, it sure as hell comes to be a bit of a disappointment considering how hard this film went on without ever seeming like it was going to fall for straight-up conventions. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting Ralph to drop all conventions and just go into a crazy, psycho-killer mode and have all kids from all over the world scream for their lives in terror, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting it to really get as schmaltzy and obvious as it does here. Of course, there’s a fight between two characters that sets a riff between the two, they come back together in the end, and eventually come to terms with what they were made to do in the first-place, but come on, give me something at least a tad bit fresh people. That’s all I ask for, really.

Despite this drop into conventions, Wreck-it Ralph always stays endearing and a little touching, and that’s mainly because of the special, bubbly voices they got to supply for these roles. John C. Reilly is a perfect-fit for Ralph as he nails the villainous-angst we come to know and understand about this character right from the get-go, and also shows us that the guy can still bring all of that warm fuzziness he brings to every role, even if it is just his voice he’s using. Reilly, no matter what the guy does, always has this certain level of warmth to him that just makes you want to hang-out with him if you’re a dude, and hug the hell out of him if you’re a woman, or gay dude. Either way, you’re going to want to be around him and that’s what makes Ralph so damn likable right from the first-shot.

Even though Sarah Silverman is very annoying with her constantly ear-aching voice, her character, Vanellope von Schweetz, isn’t as bad this time-around, mainly because that’s the whole idea behind her. Schweetz annoys the hell out of Ralph, which in-turn, annoys the hell out of us and makes us want her to go away just as much as he wants her to, even though this doesn’t last forever and she starts to grow on you, just like she grows on Ralph. It’s a nice, little friendship they have going on here and it’s definitely one I want to see continue on throughout the years. Even though, it will never be anywhere near as close to the loving friendship between Woody and Buzz. Sorry, guys, you just don’t quite have what it takes yet.

The other voice-member I was most impressed with was Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix, Jr., the squeaky-clean hero of Ralph’s video-game. Felix is such an out-dated goof here in this story, that it’s really funny to see him get played around with in a flick that’s all about how the new games, are definitely crazier and more violent than the old games. That, in and of itself provides a whole ‘nother context to this story, but that’s an idea that doesn’t really need to be focused-on as much because it would have been so damn easy. And let’s not forget to mention, Jane Lynch is here as the tough-ass leader of the game Hero’s Duty, Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun, and once again shows why she still has that perfect comedic-timing no matter what it is that the gal does. Just like the video-game characters most of these people are voicing, there are plenty more famous names that pop-up here and there, but the most fun out of it all is just to wait and see how many you catch, how many you don’t, and how many made you second-guess yourself. Trust me, I did that and it’s sort of like Cloud Atlas in that aspect, except without all of the make-up and costumes.

Consensus: With a promising start, Wreck-it Ralph sort of does disappoint by how quickly it falls into a conventional, Disney plot we have all seen done time and time again, but thankfully, isn’t as bad to witness and stick around for because of lovable characters, beautiful animation, an entertaining story, and an emotional center that feels real, rather than ever feeling cheap. Definitely look forward to seeing more sequels and more games pop-up.

8/10=Matinee!!

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26 comments

  1. Nice review, buddy! I’m glad to see you liked this one. It sort of did suck that he was stuck in SR for the majority of the feature, but it was a little hard to be mobile with the little one by his side, you know why. It was so funny when Felix said to Calhoun, “Whoa! High definition! Your face is so clear…” I thought it was funny because we were all thinking it, and he just commented on it with stellar timing.

    It would be awesome if you could check out my review: http://filmcraziest.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/wreck-it-ralph-2012/

    Just when you get the chance, thanks.

    • Nice review my man! It was a great time and so many jokes here just made me laugh, but also realize how painfully honest they were, especially when you think about video-games. Thanks!

  2. I thought about the thematic ties to Toy Story as well (although as a child/teen of the 90s, I think the transition from toys to video games was well in place at that point). I don’t feel like this one feels conventional at all and the move from the first act to the second and third is essential as otherwise it would have been shallow nostalgia service. It might not quite be Toy Story but it is close, certainly better than Toy Story 2.

  3. It was enjoyable fun. You touched on all the same issues I had with the movie so nothing to add really. The first part was a video game enthusiast’s dream come true. The latter part in Sugar Rush was a bakery lover’s dream come true. 😀

  4. Nice write-up!

    I loved it! Yeah…I can see all the little snags…but did not care one bit! Like you said–overall it is clever and original with a lot of heart.

    I, too was thinking of all the possible sequels–with so many games to explore it should be a lot of fun!

    OH! Wasn’t the short Paperman beautifully brilliant??

  5. Yeah, I thought this was good, but I definitely would have preferred if it had focused more on the actual video game aspect rather than becoming Candy Land: The Movie. Still enjoyable though, and I’d definitely be up for a more video game-focused sequel. Good review, Dan!

  6. If they could put the heart and soul of Paperman into a feature length film, it would be an instant classic. I think the world needs modern fairy tales, without trying to be hip/edgy/cool.

    Ultimately, I think that’s why Toy Story can be called a “classic” and Wreck It Ralph can’t. Unfortunately, Wreck It Ralph is burdened by it’s setting – the nostalgia of video game arcades limits the film where it can’t be considered timeless. While I liked all the cameos of video game characters, it’s not a substitute for developing characters

    • (I posted my comment before I was finished.)
      While I liked all the cameos of video game characters, it’s not a substitute for developing characters. It’s kind of a shortcut in world-building. But more characters that arc through the script beyond the main three would be more satisfying.

      While I thought the volcano ending was fun and satisfying, it was a little too deus ex machina, and almost was too much just-a-joke.

      I liked Vanellope’s character resolution though. And I would look forward to seeing more of the Sugar Rush characters developed outside of their game in a sequel.

      I think if there would be a sequel, it would need to be a sort of mystery and explore ghost-in-the-machine dualities of these characters, and the people who play the games. Maybe with a game that allows the gamers in the arcade to create their own character.

      But I don’t think the setting of Wreck it Ralph or a sequel will ever be a timeless classic.

  7. Thanks for the comment.
    A non-Pixar cg Disney movie, and it’s well done? that’s worth paying attention to. We did spend a lot of time in Sugar Rush, but I only thought about that after.

  8. Great review and after seeing the movie today, i have to agree with your review,
    I loved the beginning trying to look and point out all the video game characters I knew, but was disappointed how the whole story centered around the sugar rush setting, was wishing for more game-hopping.
    Was still an enjoyable movie, but not I would rank up that high.

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